It’s Science Fiction but not as we know it. Andy Secombe’s detective-cum-Science Fiction novel seems a bit of a cheat but still provides a solid offering.
Our lead character Jack Lindsay is a private detective who boasts an old school mentality. He can barely pay the rent, dresses scruffily and doesn’t deal with authority well. After a quiet period, two cases come along at once: a woman searching for her husband whose true face has never been seen in public and a spate of politicians being assassinated by a hitman who has managed to elude police forces from around the world. Could the two cases be connected?
This book exists in an alternative universe following a ‘new’ Battle of Britain and the England here is a bit different to what we’re used to. Planes are no longer a viable method of transport, rationing is rife and sentient computers are doormen and women of apartment slums.
I’d question the setting of the story in an alternative universe. The rationing and the different way of life don’t really add too much to the plot but rather just makes the setting different to other detective tales. I would have preferred if it had been a normal modern-day setting or an all-out dystopian future. Something in between just didn’t cut it and, unfortunately, the plot is often slowed down because we had to be reminded of how bad it was.
I did enjoy the characterisation in the novel. Jack is a solid lead and none of his associates were too annoying, however they would have benefited from a little more depth. Secombe does dialogue well and the characters spark and play off each other perfectly. There’s a touch of ‘Red Dwarf’ about the writing, which of course is a massive compliment.
This won’t be for everyone and I’d question its genre credentials as a few leaps in technology doesn’t make something a Science Fiction novel. If you treat it as a simple, easy-to-read detective novel, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
(pub: Pan Macmillan. 344 page hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK), $24.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-230-71233-1
344 page enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $14.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4050-5359-4)
check out website: www.panmacmillan.com